“Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” (Gal. 2:9)
Remembering the poor is not a new theme in the Word of God. It is not a new concept initiated for the New Testament church and its members. God made man and men made others poor. The poor have never been a minority as much as those with means may think. God has always been considerate of the poor and has provided the non-poor sufficient means to take care of the poor.
When God called Israel out of Egypt to the land of promise, He told them they were going to a place that could be without poor people. This followed God’s commandment to them to wipe out debts at the end of a specified seven-year period. This would no longer be necessary if they lived according to God’s commands. They would all fare well, “if only you listen obediently to the voice of your God…” (Deut. 15:5)
A few verses further God tells them there will always be poor people in the land. He knows how men are. But there is a remedy for the poor in the land. Deut 15:11 “… therefore I command you, ”You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in your land.'”
This responsibility of the non-poor to the poor is repeated throughout the Bible. In Isaiah 58 God explains what a true fast is. Let’s read it: “Is this not the fast that I choose; to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke? Is it not to share you bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” This is verses 6 and 7. If this is what God expected of a non-spiritual people what does he expect from the saints of the church today?
Jeremiah talked about mistreating the poor and so did Ezekiel, Amos, and Zechariah. Not taking care of the poor and/or taking advantage of them was a large negative in God’s eyes. The poor were a frequent subject of the teachings of Jesus. In fact, Jesus came not as a rich ruler but as a poor infant. Here is what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by your poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9). A few verses later Paul reminds them that God loves a cheerful giver. This statement was in the middle of his urging the Corinthians to give generously to the poor.
Paul is reminded that he needed to remember the poor. Paul wants it understood that he needed no reminding. He was not only aware of that responsibility but he was eager to discharge it. We find him doing that later in his ministry. Paul collected funds to help the poor saints in Jerusalem, the very place where he was reminded to do it. Paul did not require a reminder. What about us?
Task for Today: If you see a hungry person, feed them. Take them to lunch or take groceries to their house. If you see a homeless person, find them shelter. Contribute to organizations that do provide temporary or permanent shelter. If you see a naked person, provide them something to wear. Be careful that you don’t try to do this on the skimpy side. God loves generous people.